I'm thirty-three and obese, and behind schedule today. After working this afternoon until two or three, I'll haul this tired body home and finish a paper on Nathaniel Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables. It's hard for me to understand why I always feel like I'm running behind and why some tasks get neglected altogether. I haven't even, for example, made any progress in a handful of days on a story I was writing. The way time gets chewed up--more difficult for me to accept than my belly.
The philosopher Gottfried Leibniz believed that everything happens the way it does for a reason, that there are no accidents. The philosopher Immanuel Kant thought this were so too. Day two in Rick Warren's self-help book echoes this sentiment.
Suppose it's true that everything happens for a reason--for me, one challenge to coming to terms with the idea is what sort of behaviors to adopt so that I don't feel overwhelmed by circumstances, especially if they feel out of my control. In another self-help book, this one by Dale Carnegie (How to Stop Worrying and Start Living), the general advice is that if you worried or have a problem, there are three basic steps to engage it. First, ask yourself what the worst thing is that could possibly happen. Consider again the paper I have to complete before the day is done. The worst thing would be not completing it, which would mean receiving a poor grade for the course for which it's written, which would mean taking the course over again, which would mean a setback in terms of when I'd graduate. Well, the second step of dealing with worry would mean me being willing to accept those consequences if I have to, that is, make peace that that chain of events would occur. Then the third step is proceeding, calmly, to improve upon the situation so as not to bring about the worst situation. This would mean, right now, today, getting as much of my research gathered at hand so that I could work on the paper, beginning the paper as soon as possible, not getting distracted by anything else except what is absolutely necessary so as to complete the work, and so on. It would also mean reflecting on my mistake so that in the future I don't make a similar mistake--like maybe I should do my best to make time that the kind of work I'm doing is not completed at the last possible moment, even if that makes taking time off work or missing sleep or delaying any of the other assignments I have that are not as pressing. I think I can manage changing my behaviors and accepting these circumstances, which are at least now no longer in my control, that I am faced with.
On another related note, if everything happens for a reason and everyone I encounter is here for a reason, I ought to do my best to sincerely appreciate other people for who they are. This is another thing I will make part of my day--sincerely appreciating other people and, to the extent I can, expressing that appreciation.